Home News Throwback Thursday: Lees Creek store, Take 2

Throwback Thursday: Lees Creek store, Take 2


Editor’s Note: Thank you to Patti Flint, who let us know that much history on the Lees Creek store pictured in last weeks’ Throwback Thursday could be found at https://simonkentonleescreek1960.weebly.com/ — including the below taken from that website:

“In 1876 the IOOF [Independent Order of the Odd Fellows] built the two-story 20 x 25 feet wood frame building at the southwest corner of the intersections of State Route 729 and Larrick Road. The upper story was the Hall for the Odd Fellows and the Rebekas – the sister organization.

The lot was purchased from Mrs. Stotler for $25. Cost was $36.80 for the foundation and $850 for framework. Lime and stone for the basement cost $17.50, paid to John Caniff. The Hall was insured for three years for $30. Cost for the Lodge Hall furniture (desks and chairs) and a rug was $144.79.

It appears from the IOOF record book that finishing of the ground-level story continued at a leisurely pace into year 1878. In Feb 1880 George Pencil tried to rent the lower floor for a shoe shop. First note of an actual renter was the next year, 1881, to Mr. Molenpage for $65 per year for the next three years. No mention of Mr. Molenpage’s business, but it is thought that he or one of the next two merchants operated a clothing store. Community oral history has it that the first business was the clothing store. This is probably true because the two-story brick building next door was apparently built earlier and housed the “general store”. Various merchants and renters of this brick building were Oscar Canter, then O. D. Armstrong in 1896, Oscar Jones, Chancy Cox. The village physician Dr. Shaffer had his office there.

Subsequent merchants after Mr. Molenpage were Daniel Theobald in 1885 and G. W. Syfred in 1886.

The above information is from Mary Louise Leslie’s recollections and her research into the records of the IOOF Lodge.

The Babb brothers were the next and general store merchants for sure. The following information is from Janie Babb Warehime and her cousin Dave Lieurance (his mother was Opal Babb). The Babbs owned the store from 1900 to 1920, but Dave is not positive of the dates [the date on the store safe was 1892]. Both he and Janie think Franklin Babb, Forest Babb and Eva Babb Willis Hodson were the owners, the “Babb Bros”. Eva’s second husband was Cyrus Hodson and they resided on Larrick Road across from the store. Brother Franklin Babb was the Lees Creek Postmaster.

At one time, the Babbs owned eleven stores in Clinton County but eventually went bankrupt. The safe in the store at Lees Creek had “Babb Bros. Store No. 1 – 1892” printed in gold ink and remained at this location until the building was removed in 2003.

Mary Louise’s information picks up again. Canter and Nunn operated the general store from 1920 to 1927; then Harry Nunn continued from 1934 until 1942. The store had a variety of merchandise including groceries. Mary mentions that her brother Alexander Rhonemus and Barney Nunn drove the store’s huckster wagon one summer, probably 1934 or 1935. The wagon was stored in a shed between the IOOF building and the brick building next door.

Brothers William and Thomas Leslie, who clerked there for Harry Nunn, bought the store and continued operation until 1971. During WW II Mary Louise Leslie, wife of William, and his father Al Leslie kept the store going while the two brothers served their country — Tom was not married until after the War.

Succeeding operators were: Don and Nancy Chambers, 1971-1974; Seegers 19741975; Mark and Julia Essleman 1975-ca 1979/80?; Brian and ? Garber 1979/80-Dec. 1989; John Stamm.

The IOOF Lodge disbanded to New Vienna in 1979 and the building remained vacant after the Garber Bros. Needed improvements and new EPA regulations proved too costly for operation. The below ground gasoline tank would have to be removed – partially under Route 729 – and the soil checked for contamination, and water and sewer lines had to be installed.

The Township (Wayne) eventually bought the property and soon realized the building had to be removed for community safety.

The ‘store’ was opened for one last time on Sunday June 29, 2003 for a community Good Bye party.

The building was destroyed July 5, 2003 and a small park marks the spot of this locally historic site.”


Keith Adams wrote to the Clinton County History Center last week and said, “Your picture of a store in the Throwback Thursday: In Lees Creek, brought back a lot of memories from my school days at Simon Kenton, and later New Kenton. When I was in school at Simon Kenton the store was owned by Bill and Tom Leslie.

“It was also the place where my Boy Scout Troop #35 met in the upstairs. At that time the scout troop was lead by Mr. Ray Danes. I can remember during the late ’50s and into the early ’60s when we would go to the store for a soda or ice cream. The Leslies would also make up sandwiches at lunch time in the back of the store. Good memories from my early years in Lees Creek. Thanks for putting in the picture.”

Doris Burton called the History Center and said she used to work at Bernard Turkey Farm and the plant manager would get workers sandwiches from the deli that was in the back of the grocery.


These are some highlights from the News Journal on April 16, 1942:

National headlines

• ‘U.S. Bombers Raid (Japanese) In Philippines’

‘Smacked Hell Out Of ‘Em’ is Flyers’ Report’

“(AP) — General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters disclosed today that 110 tons of bombs were dumped on Japanese soldiers, ships, planes and other military targets in the spectacular two-day assault by U.S. Army bombers against enemy bases in the Philippines.”

• ‘French Fleet Seen As Grave Menace Today’

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The increasing threat that Nazi Germany may gain control of the French fleet was regarded by Naval authorities today as a grave menace to Britain’s supply lies in the Mediterranean and thus a direct threat to the security of her armies In North Africa.”


• “Complete program for the dedication of the $70,000 addition and other improvements at Martinsville school” was set and H.R. Townsend, commissioner of the OHo High School Athletic Association and a Martinsville alumnus, and Carl Shanks, superintendent of county schools, were scheduled to speak.

• Gibbs Hardware in Sabina advertised that “His after-dinner cigarette costs more than cooking his whole meal with PHILGAS” bottled natural gas.

• Showing at the Murphy Theatre was “Texas” starring William Holden and Glenn Ford. At the Lamax Theatre was the animated “Mr. Bug Goes To Town.”

• The Wilmington Music Club planned to meet at the home of Miss Sara Catherine Riehl on North Walnut St. with a presentation by Mrs. B.Y. Spare with hostesses Miss Margaretha Baumann and Mrs. Ruth Laughbaum Paugh.

• In Blanchester, Mrs. D.M. Edgington entertained with a bridge luncheon that included Mrs. C.K. Irvin, Mrs. H.R. Bates, Mrs. Ernest Hixon, Mrs. Sam Sewell, Mrs. Lloyd Whitacre, Mrs. Carl Whitacre, Mrs. Richard Buckley, Mrs. Everett Griswold, Mrs. Homer Villars, Mrs. Charles Brummond, and Mrs. William Van Cleeve.

• In Sabina, Mrs. O.M. Darbyshire entertained members of the Daughters of Wesley of the Methodist Church at her home with Mrs. J.C. Burnett co-hostess and including Mrs. Lon Rhonemus, Mrs. H.E. Collett, Mrs. Lena Rhonemus, Mrs. F.G. Chance, Mrs. Naomi Thompson, Mrs. David Morris, Mrs. H.C. Curtis, Mrs. Agnes Krebs, Mrs. C.A. Pavey and Mrs. Emmett Martins. and guests Mrs. Anna Hale of Wilmington, and Mrs. Milton Jacks and Miss Gertrude Curtis.

• James Rhonemus, age 94, “extensive land owner and retired farmer”, died at age 94 at his home near Lees Creek.

The “Famous Back Benches” at Leslie Bros Grocery, from the 1958 Simon Kenton yearbook. From left are Roger McFadden, Dalton McFadden, (unknown), Wilbur Cast, Bill Adams and Ott Grimsley.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/04/web1_leslie-bros-clip.jpgThe “Famous Back Benches” at Leslie Bros Grocery, from the 1958 Simon Kenton yearbook. From left are Roger McFadden, Dalton McFadden, (unknown), Wilbur Cast, Bill Adams and Ott Grimsley. https://simonkentonleescreek1960.weebly.com